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December 5, 2011

Perry Robinson in Portland

Last night we witnessed the live chops of clarinet great, Perry Robinson. One of my favorite albums I own is William Parker's Clarinet Trio which features Robinson on their release entitled Bob's Pink Cadillac. Along with a solid discography as a leader, Perry Robinson has contributed to many significant recordings as a sideman; Henry Grimes The Call (an album I always tend to leave a copy in my car), Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Archie Shepp's Mama Too Tight, Burton Greenes' Klezmokum band, among other notable recordings.
See a detailed list here.

Perry Robinson was presented in a quartet alongside Portland's premier Avant-Garde drummer Tim DuRoche, stellar bassist Andre St. James, and Seattle's Marc Smason on trombone. We were tucked down in the cozy basement of The Blue Monk. A Jazz club with a speakeasy feel, it's one of the only places in town one can sip a Trappist Ales and tap their feet to some of the best live Jazz around. It's truly an authentic Jazz experience with candlelit round tables and small booth seating offering an intimate climate between musicians and audience. The Blue Monk's Ninkasi Presents Sunday Night Jazz even has a hostess MC, Mary-Sue Tobin, that reminded me of Alfred Lion's wife, Ruth Mason, from her introduction on Donald Byrd's Live at the Half Note.

The piano-less quartet (everyone knows my favorite form of Jazz group) offered a range of Klezmer inspired Jazz tunes to numbers that were amoebic and free in nature. Music that resembled the intricate horn work of Anthony Braxton's compositions, or the artfully crafted work of Roswell Rudd (New York Art Quartet springs to mind). It was some of the best live music I have seen all year. Robinson's tone was out of this world. He seemed in the moment yet he had full control of his clarinet. Andre St. James was powerful on bass, with amazing arco playing alongside a duo performance with Tim DuRoche. Marc Smason appeared to lead the group, directing how each number was arranged.

I feel honored to not only been able to see Perry Robinson perform live, but to see him in such a low key environment. I'm constantly reminded that #jazzlives.

Perry Robinson with Henry Grimes (bass) and Tom Price (drums)
Fish Story by Henry Grimes Trio on Grooveshark

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